Researcher biography

Dr Rob Pensalfini received his PhD in theoretical linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997, with research based on his fieldwork in the Barkly Tableland of Australia's Northern Territory. He then worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago for two years prior to commencing as a Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Queensland in 1999. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and Drama in 2003, and to Associate Professor in 2016. He has published several books and numerous articles in both linguistics and drama, including ground-breaking work on the performance of Shakespeare in prisons. He leads Australia's only ongoing Prison Shakespeare program and is the Artistic Director of the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble.

Research Interests

  • Australian languages
    The structure and use of Australia's indigenous languages, particularly morphology, phonology and syntax. Language documentation and description. Language endangerment and maintenance.
  • Prison Shakespeare
    The performance or study of Shakespeare's dramatic works in prisons, typically faciliated by external artists. The impacts and challenges of such projects and the history and development of the phenomenon.
  • Shakespeare in Performance
    Particularly in Australia.
  • Actor training
    Use of the voice and body in acting. Performing rhetoric and verse.